The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 55v - the phoenix, continued.


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Commentary, Translation and Transcription

These sections are located below the image on each page, scroll down page and click on the tabs to view them. It is also possible to view the translation alongside the image by clicking the translation icon in the toolbar

It is not part of the project to provide a definitive edition of the text of the Bestiary, but to help readers by providing a transcription and translation of the text. Currently the following editorial conventions obtain:

Text

  1. The original capitalisation is retained, but capitals have been added for personal and place names, excluding deus and diabolus.
  2. The original punctuation, including a point and inverted semi-colon (both serving as commas), and a point (serving as a full stop), is represented by comma, full stop and question-mark; a colon has been inserted before quotations.
  3. Suggested readings are in [ ].
  4. Variants from other Bestiary texts (eg Ashmole 1511 and Patrologia Latina 176) are added where they indicate a corruption, elucidate a meaning and replace excised text. They are represented as [A: PL:]

Translation

  1. Direct quotations from the Bible, where identified, are cited from the Authorised Version in ( ).
  2. Paraphrased quotations are identified where possible and indicated as: (see Job, 18:22).
  3. Suggested translations of corrupt words are in [ ].
  4. Capitalisation is sparing; additional punctuation has been used where necessary to give the sense. Paragraphs have been created to break up the text.
But on the ninth day after that, the bird rises from its own ashes. Our Lord Jesus Christ displays the features of this bird, saying: 'I have the power to lay down my life and to take it again' (see John, 10:18). If, therefore, the phoenix has the power to destroy and revive itself, why do fools grow angry at the word of God, who is the true son of God, who says: 'I have the power to lay down my life and to take it again'? For it is a fact that our Saviour descended from heaven; he filled his wings with the fragrance of the Old and New Testaments; he offered himself to God his father for our sake on the altar of the cross; and on the third he day he rose again. The phoenix can also signify the resurrection of the righteous who, gathering the aromatic plants of virtue, prepare for the renewal of their former energy after death. The phoenix is a bird of Arabia. Arabia can be understood as a plain, flat land. The plain is this world; Arabia is worldly life; Arabs, those who are of this world. The Arabs call a solitary man phoenix. Any righteous man is solitary, wholly removed from the cares of this world. The phoenix also

Text

The phoenix. The bird turns to face the sun, beats its wings to fan the flames which will incinerate it. It rises from its ashes, a sign of the Resurrection.

Illustration

A ventral view of the bird between two trees, with wings out stretched and head to one side, beating its wingsd and looking for the sun.

Comment

Possibly a faint sketch to left of initial F (type 2), in the margin. The rubric is missing. Initial type 2.

Folio Attributes

  • Initial Type 2

    Initial Type 2

    Initial Type 2
    Type 2 initial. Detail from f.5v

    Type 2 is much more common. The letter is made with burnished gold, filled with a blue or brown background which is decorated with a delicate white tracery. Many of these are embellished with red or blue traces or sprays. The Aberdeen Bestiary is a very early example of the use of sprays which culminates in the art of William de Brailes in the mid-thirteenth century (Morgan 1982,no.68). An elaborate spray is on f.41v. The fine white filigree pattern is also found on some of the illuminations (f.3r, f.11r, f.12r) suggesting that the main illuminator also made these initials. This type generally occupies two lines. This initial is generally used to introduce each new animal.

  • Sketches

    Sketches

    Sketches
    Sketch of dog. Detail from f.12v

    Several very faint sketches can be seen in the margins of the book. Most of these are preliminaries for final drawings. On f.32r the frames for the illustration have been blocked in. On f.12v, bottom right, is a sketch of a dog like that at the foot of f.5r. On f.28r there are two sketches of circles in squares and in the bottom roundel is a cat like that on f.5r. There is a faint circular outline on the right of f.44v. The most important sketches are those on f.93v. These show variations on the two firestones scenes which relate very closely to parallel illustrations in Ashmolean 1511, f.103v. They are described in detail on f.93v.

Transcription

postea vero die nona avis de cineribus suis sur\ git. Huius figu\ ram gerit dominus\ noster Jesus Christus qui dicit: Po\ testatem habeo\ ponendi ani\ mam meam et iterum su\ mendi eam.\ Si ergo fenix mor\ tificandi atque\ vivificandi se\ habet potesta\ tem, cur stulti\ homines irascuntur in verbo dei qui verus dei fi\ lius est qui dicit: Potestam habeo ponendi animam\ meam et iterum sumendi eam. Descendit namque sal\ vator noster de celo ala[s] suas suavitatis odoribus novi et\ veteris testamenti replevit, et in ara crucis seip\ sum deo patri pro nobis optulit, et tercia die resur\ rexit.\ Fenix etiam significare potest resurrectionem\ iustorum, qui aromatibus virtutum collectis\ restaurationem prioris vigoris, post mortem sibi\ preparant. Fenix est Arabie avis. Arabia vero inter\ pretatur campestris. Campus, est hic mundus, Ara\ bia, est secularis vita, Arabes, seculares. Arabes feni\ cem appellant singularem. Singularis est quilibet\ iustus, a curis secularibus omnino remotus. Fenix quoque\

Translation

But on the ninth day after that, the bird rises from its own ashes. Our Lord Jesus Christ displays the features of this bird, saying: 'I have the power to lay down my life and to take it again' (see John, 10:18). If, therefore, the phoenix has the power to destroy and revive itself, why do fools grow angry at the word of God, who is the true son of God, who says: 'I have the power to lay down my life and to take it again'? For it is a fact that our Saviour descended from heaven; he filled his wings with the fragrance of the Old and New Testaments; he offered himself to God his father for our sake on the altar of the cross; and on the third he day he rose again. The phoenix can also signify the resurrection of the righteous who, gathering the aromatic plants of virtue, prepare for the renewal of their former energy after death. The phoenix is a bird of Arabia. Arabia can be understood as a plain, flat land. The plain is this world; Arabia is worldly life; Arabs, those who are of this world. The Arabs call a solitary man phoenix. Any righteous man is solitary, wholly removed from the cares of this world. The phoenix also
  • Commentary

    Text

    The phoenix. The bird turns to face the sun, beats its wings to fan the flames which will incinerate it. It rises from its ashes, a sign of the Resurrection.

    Illustration

    A ventral view of the bird between two trees, with wings out stretched and head to one side, beating its wingsd and looking for the sun.

    Comment

    Possibly a faint sketch to left of initial F (type 2), in the margin. The rubric is missing. Initial type 2.

    Folio Attributes

    • Initial Type 2

      Initial Type 2

      Initial Type 2
      Type 2 initial. Detail from f.5v

      Type 2 is much more common. The letter is made with burnished gold, filled with a blue or brown background which is decorated with a delicate white tracery. Many of these are embellished with red or blue traces or sprays. The Aberdeen Bestiary is a very early example of the use of sprays which culminates in the art of William de Brailes in the mid-thirteenth century (Morgan 1982,no.68). An elaborate spray is on f.41v. The fine white filigree pattern is also found on some of the illuminations (f.3r, f.11r, f.12r) suggesting that the main illuminator also made these initials. This type generally occupies two lines. This initial is generally used to introduce each new animal.

    • Sketches

      Sketches

      Sketches
      Sketch of dog. Detail from f.12v

      Several very faint sketches can be seen in the margins of the book. Most of these are preliminaries for final drawings. On f.32r the frames for the illustration have been blocked in. On f.12v, bottom right, is a sketch of a dog like that at the foot of f.5r. On f.28r there are two sketches of circles in squares and in the bottom roundel is a cat like that on f.5r. There is a faint circular outline on the right of f.44v. The most important sketches are those on f.93v. These show variations on the two firestones scenes which relate very closely to parallel illustrations in Ashmolean 1511, f.103v. They are described in detail on f.93v.

  • Translation
    But on the ninth day after that, the bird rises from its own ashes. Our Lord Jesus Christ displays the features of this bird, saying: 'I have the power to lay down my life and to take it again' (see John, 10:18). If, therefore, the phoenix has the power to destroy and revive itself, why do fools grow angry at the word of God, who is the true son of God, who says: 'I have the power to lay down my life and to take it again'? For it is a fact that our Saviour descended from heaven; he filled his wings with the fragrance of the Old and New Testaments; he offered himself to God his father for our sake on the altar of the cross; and on the third he day he rose again. The phoenix can also signify the resurrection of the righteous who, gathering the aromatic plants of virtue, prepare for the renewal of their former energy after death. The phoenix is a bird of Arabia. Arabia can be understood as a plain, flat land. The plain is this world; Arabia is worldly life; Arabs, those who are of this world. The Arabs call a solitary man phoenix. Any righteous man is solitary, wholly removed from the cares of this world. The phoenix also
  • Transcription
    postea vero die nona avis de cineribus suis sur\ git. Huius figu\ ram gerit dominus\ noster Jesus Christus qui dicit: Po\ testatem habeo\ ponendi ani\ mam meam et iterum su\ mendi eam.\ Si ergo fenix mor\ tificandi atque\ vivificandi se\ habet potesta\ tem, cur stulti\ homines irascuntur in verbo dei qui verus dei fi\ lius est qui dicit: Potestam habeo ponendi animam\ meam et iterum sumendi eam. Descendit namque sal\ vator noster de celo ala[s] suas suavitatis odoribus novi et\ veteris testamenti replevit, et in ara crucis seip\ sum deo patri pro nobis optulit, et tercia die resur\ rexit.\ Fenix etiam significare potest resurrectionem\ iustorum, qui aromatibus virtutum collectis\ restaurationem prioris vigoris, post mortem sibi\ preparant. Fenix est Arabie avis. Arabia vero inter\ pretatur campestris. Campus, est hic mundus, Ara\ bia, est secularis vita, Arabes, seculares. Arabes feni\ cem appellant singularem. Singularis est quilibet\ iustus, a curis secularibus omnino remotus. Fenix quoque\
Folio 55v - the phoenix, continued. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen